Photo Information

Navy Lt. Billy Turley, from Auburn, Ky., extracts a woman’s tooth at a clinic here Oct. 15. Turley and other medical personnel with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit provided health services to 85 people Oct. 15, their first day. Turley, a dentist with the U.S. Navy Dental Corps, removed 27 teeth for 13 patients.

Photo by Sgt. Scott Biscuiti

Doctors, corpsmen provide medical care in Timor Leste

15 Oct 2009 | Sgt. Scott Biscuiti

Curious onlookers filled the dusty road in front of the clinic and peered through an iron gate, vying for a glimpse at the visiting Americans. Eighty-five Timor Leste citizens went in and were treated by Navy doctors and corpsmen, some receiving healthcare for the first time.

Medical personnel from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit provided health services to Maubara locals and those from neighboring villages at a clinic here Oct. 15.  

 Coughs and upper respiratory problems were the chief complaints along with malnourishment and some skin infections, common ailments in underdeveloped countries, said Lt. Cmdr. Norak Chhieng, a Monterey Park, Calif. native, and emergency physician with the 11th MEU.

"When you have more than ten people with poor hygiene living in a small house, things spread easily," said Chief Petty Officer Norman Delacruz, an independent duty corpsman with the MEU.

"The good thing is, when they come to us we open their eyes about serious problems they might have," said the Oceanside, Calif. native.

Much of the doctors' work included diagnosing patients' problems and referring them to local hospitals where they can receive prescription medication and surgeries for serious medical problems.

As the temperatures increased, so did the crowd. The 14 corpsmen and four doctors had a steady flow of patients, and soon the clinic and surrounding courtyard began to fill.

A woman in a pink blouse and red skirt complained of a toothache, but said she didn't want the upper tooth removed. She feared that she would lose her sight.

Lt. Billy Turley, an Auburn, Ky., native, reassured the woman that her teeth were not connected to her eyes and then pulled two teeth out.

Turley removed 25 more teeth that day.

The medical team will be providing health care at numerous locations in Timor Leste before joining the rest of the 11th MEU embarked aboard amphibious assault ships and continuing their deployment through the western Pacific Ocean.


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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit